Stay Focused Behind the Wheel

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

By Woody Hill, Vice President of Safety Services

How many times have you been driving, heard the familiar ping of your phone notifying you that you received a text message, and then glanced down to read it? In the short time your eyes were off the road, your vehicle could have travelled the length of a football field.

Distracted driving has reached epidemic proportions. At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Dialing, texting and other tasks associated with using electronic devices increase your risk of getting into a crash by three times. In 2013, 460 Texans died in crashes involving distracted driving. Distractions fall into three broad categories:

  • Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel.
  • Visual distractions take your eyes off the road
  • Cognitive distractions take your mind off the task at hand.

You can steer clear of all three types of distractions and their potentially fatal consequences if you follow these tips.

Plan your trip
The planning process could include finding the safest route; setting your GPS; and adjusting your seat, mirrors and radio or music playlist. Your goal is to identify potential distractions in advance, and then take steps to minimize the risk.

Practice safe behaviors
Start by putting your cell phone down. If you have to read a text message, or make or receive a call, pull over to a safe place.

That goes for hands-free devices, too. Studies show they are no safer than hand-held devices.

And remember that while cell phones get the bulk of attention when it comes to distracted driving, they are not the only risk. Avoid eating, combing your hair, putting on makeup and anything else that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel.

Focus on the task at hand
When you are operating a vehicle, driving is your most important job. You can decrease cognitive distractions by keeping conversation light, avoiding driving when you are angry or upset, making sure you are well-rested, listening to soothing music and giving aggressive drivers plenty of space.

Previous installments in this series
With the holiday season in full swing, Texans are wrapping up last-minute shopping and travelling to visit loved ones. Texas Mutual wants everyone to get to their destinations safely. That’s why we launched this series of safe-driving blog posts. Stay tuned for more posts as the holidays ramp up. And if you missed previous installments, take a few minutes to catch up. We think you’ll find it was time well-spent:

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